Things at Disney World have definitely changed following the park closures.
We’re constantly watching for Park Pass Reservation availability, ordering a LOT more on Mobile Order, and dealing with a whole new world where FastPass+ is suspended. On top of all that, there’s limited capacity at the parks.
Fast forward a few months, and things have continued to change and develop. The parks are starting to seem more crowded, particularly on holiday weekends, and lines for attractions are getting longer. While this is the case, Chapek has stated that capacity has remained at 25%.
But, what about availability for Advance Dining Reservations? How has that changed from the time the parks reopened to now? We did a little bit of digging and analyzing, and here are our thoughts.
There are LOTS of restaurants around Walt Disney World, so for our comparison and analysis we took a look at four specific spots — Be Our Guest Restaurant, Cinderella’s Royal Table, California Grill, and Oga’s Cantina. These are all pretty popular spots in Disney World to grab a bite.
In order to do our comparison, we took a brief look at what getting a reservation at these spots was typically like prior to the parks opening, what it was like immediately after each restaurant reopened, and what it’s like now.
Be Our Guest Restaurant
Prior to the park closures, Be Our Guest, which is located in Magic Kingdom, was notoriously one of the hardest spots to grab a dining reservation at. In fact, it made our list of the restaurants we expected would be the most difficult to get a reservation at in 2020.
The theming at this location and the chance to eat primarily either in the dark and sinister-looking West Wing or the straight-out-of-the-movie Ballroom is a huge draw. Plus, it was technically a character dining spot where, after dinner, you could meet the one and only Beast — a character that is essentially impossible to find otherwise.
When Be Our Guest reopened after the park closures, Disney did not make a statement about the Beast coming back. But, to our surprise, the Beast actually made a special appearance during our meal!
When we visited during Passholder previews, they were actually taking limited same-day reservations, and one Cast Member told us that later in the afternoon, they would be operating more on a first-come, first-served basis.
Keep in mind, the quick-service lunch we were accustomed to here (that we HIGHLY recommended as a killer value when the Dining Plan still was around) temporarily went bye-bye after the restaurant reopened. Right now, guests can only book the (pricy but still crazy popular) prix fixe meal that was previously only available for dinner.
So, what does making reservations for this restaurant look like now? On October 12th, we tried looking for a same-day reservation for dinner and couldn’t find anything. We also tried looking for a reservation for October 17th, and still…nothing.
Maybe a weekday is better? That proved somewhat true, although not by much. We found only one reservation for lunch for this week on October 13th. Dinner was about the same in terms of low availability for this week. The results were similar for next week as well. The following week, however, which is the week of Halloween and is sure to be busy, we did find some late lunch and early dinner reservations at Be Our Guest on October 28th, and some availability on the 29th.
For the week of November 9th, there were no lunch reservations when we checked. But, one week later there were some. If you were hoping to have lunch here on Thanksgiving week, however, you’re already out of luck — we couldn’t find a single reservation. So, it seems this spot continues to be a difficult one to get a reservation at. Is it as difficult as it was prior to the park closures? We’d say probably not.
There is still some availability, even during a holiday week. Plus, this spot is now available on the Walk-Up Waitlist feature on My Disney Experience, meaning you may even be able to score a same-day walk-up spot to dine here — something that was completely unavailable prior to the park closures.
Is it more difficult to eat here than it was immediately after the spot opened though? It definitely seems like it. Reservations are booking up weeks in advance. But as we always say…KEEP checking! You never know when a reservation will pop up (this sometimes happens day of).
Cinderella’s Royal Table
Not too long ago, Cinderella’s Royal Table reopened a day earlier than scheduled in Magic Kingdom. This is another spot in the park that, prior to the park closures, was incredibly difficult to get a reservation at. It was also included on our list of the hardest spots to get reservations at in 2020.
This restaurant is particularly popular because you get to eat INSIDE of Cinderella Castle, which is really a once in a lifetime must-do experience. Plus, prior to the park closures, you could meet all kinds of princesses here!
When this spot reopened after the closures, some price reductions were announced as well as the fact that the princesses would be taking a break from greeting guests — that’s right, this meal was set to be all castle but no princesses with a (small) price reduction. It opened with just a 5-minute wait on the very first day, which is CRAZY in comparison to how difficult it used to be to get a reservation here.
AND despite Disney’s indications to the contrary, we DID get to see a princess — albeit verrrry briefly. She didn’t stay very long or speak to us, but at least we did get to see Cinderella in her beautiful blue dress, waving at guests from a safe distance.
When this spot first opened, with a 5-minute wait on the first day, there’s no denying it was MUCH easier to eat here than it would have been in a pre-park closures world. This spot is also available on the Walk-Up Waitlist feature.
When we checked on October 12th, the Walk-up List was already at capacity, but if you’re able to catch it before it fills up, you may get the chance to eat at a spot you wouldn’t have gotten the chance to dine at otherwise.
But, what’s it like to get a reservation there now? We checked on October 12th and there were no same-day dinner reservations, but we were checking later in the afternoon so that likely impacted the situation. For the rest of this week, there was some availability — an early dinner reservation on the 14th, and some dinner spots on the 17th.
During Halloween week, we found some dinner and lunch reservations throughout the week. There was even a lunch reservation available for Halloween day. There was not a LOT of availability by any means, but there was some. But, Thanksgiving week was already full for lunch — at least for now.
So, is it easier than it used to be prior to the park closures? We think so. But, is it harder than the 5-minute walk-up wait time we experienced on the first day it reopened? Most definitely. At the end of the day, this is still a very pricey meal and it’s possible without the draw of all the princesses, the appeal is lost on some families otherwise willing to shell out the dough for the experience.
But, perhaps it’s unfair to just look at in-park restaurants that feature characters (even in a modified way), so, let’s hop outside the parks for a second and head to California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort.
With spectacular views of Magic Kingdom and an upscale environment, this restaurant is a popular pick. This was particularly true prior to the park closures when guests could watch the fireworks from their tables or a viewing deck outside of the restaurant.
Fireworks have been suspended for the time being, however, so that draw is certainly not there at this time. The food is still quite good though, so would demand still be there? We looked for some same-day dinner reservations in the afternoon on October 12th and found a reservation for 9:45PM. There were also some early and late-night dinner reservations available throughout this week and on Saturday.
There were even some reservations on Halloween week and even Halloween day. Again, many of these were late-night or really early reservations, but still, there was availability. The picture was similar during Thanksgiving week — with some late or early reservations available throughout the week.
So, what does that tell us? This spot isn’t as empty as it was to be when it first reopened, that’s for sure. Most of the reservations available are for really late times or really early times. So, unless you like to have dinner at 9:55PM or 4:30PM, there really wasn’t that much available.
But, there are still some reservations, even during holiday times, and it is on the Walk-Up Waitlist feature so you may be able to find availability that way.
Finally, we took a look at Oga’s Cantina in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. This is another one that made our toughest reservations for 2020 list. It’s not even a “real” table service spot — it’s a bar you likely will have to stand at a table to experience. But, for Star Wars fans, it’s basically paradise to have a chance to knock back a few in a real spaceport cantina. There are drinks that make your mouth GO NUMB and the theming will truly have you feeling like you’re living our your own Star Wars story.
But, this paradise has limited seating and a LOT of fans, so reservations prior to the park closures were incredibly difficult to snag. When it first reopened, trying to get a reservation at this spot was still tricky, and, honestly, that really hasn’t changed much.
There were no same-day dining reservations for today when we looked, and no reservations at all — not for lunch or dinner — for this entire week. There were none for next week either, or the following week. We even looked for reservations for the week of December 6th, which is pretty far out, and there was nothing available for that week when we checked.
This spot had a reasonably small capacity to begin with but, following the reopening, guests are far more spaced out meaning very few guests can be accommodated at once in the location, making those already elusive reservations just as hard to snag.
You may have a slightly better chance of enjoying some tunes and drinks in this spot now, however, since it was added to the Mobile Dine waitlist in early September. But, if you’re looking to get an actual advance dining reservation, you’ll still be hard-pressed to find one.
So, Is It Harder?
There’s no denying that crowds have increased since the reopening. There’s availability at least at some spots. But, many of these restaurants are still very difficult to get dining reservations at, and it appears that it has become a bit harder at some spots to get a reservation post-reopening.
If you’ve got a particular restaurant you want to dine at during your next trip, we highly recommend you get those reservations as far out in advance as you are able! Currently, that means 60 days out from the day you plan to dine. If you aren’t able to get the reservation you want, be sure to check online often and see if a Walk-Up Waitlist option is available for the spot you’re looking to check out. You never know, things are always changing!
This EPCOT restaurant has stood the test of time and is STILL one of the best — check out which spot we’re talking about by clicking here!
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What Disney restaurant reservation has been the toughest for you to get? Let us know in the comments!